When I first saw the image a friend sent me on Facebook, I did a double take. I recognized the priests as Fr. Wallace and Fr. Dalber from St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC. Back when I taught at Southern Evangelical Seminary, I used to take my world religion classes there during our study of the ancient Church. It was also here that several friends became Orthodox while I dabbled on my journey into the Catholic Church.
The reason of interest for sending the picture was not these priests, however. Rather, it was the man receiving chrismation from them: Hank Hanegraaff, president and chairman of the Christian Research Institute and host of the popular Evangelical radio show, the Bible Answer Man (BAM). Hank Hanegraaf is now Eastern Orthodox!
It took a while for to to confirm, but within a few hours I had confirmations from both professional colleagues and personal friends. I also found someone (another SES alum, as it turns out!) who was talking about it HERE. It only happened last night (Palm Sunday), so I assume that Hank will announce on the BAM show soon. [Since originally posting this, several sites have confirmed as well. See HERE, HERE, and HERE. There’s even a Facebook support page!]. He said so himself on the BAM broadcast HERE (11:00).
Apparently this move may not be a huge surprise to those who have been following Hank as of late. he recently caused a bit of a stir in some Orthodox circles when he gave a positive explanation of their notion of Theosis, and the Evangelical Triablogue complained about his eastern leanings earlier this month. In any case, Hank says his “beliefs haven’t changed” and that’s not a big surprise to me – it’s not a huge move from more traditional, conservative Protestantism to the more ecumenical forms of Eastern Orthodoxy.
Now, I haven’t followed Hank in well over a decade, but back in the 90’s the BAM was very influential on me. In fact, it was Hank’s interview with Norman Geisler that convinced me to attend Southern Evangelical Seminary. In the years that followed, I lost interest in his pontificating, grew weary of the ministry’s commercialization, and became suspicious about certain financial issues. But although I am no longer a BAM fanboy, I will give credit where it is due – and add this event to numerous similar anecdotes in the “Afterword” of my own journey out of Evangelicalism.
I wish Hank and his family well.